Manny Pacquiao trains with his boxing coach Freddie Roach in 2009. The Filipino icon, considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, also serves as an elected politician in the Philippines. The devout Catholic is supporting the Filipino bishops stand against the country's contraception bill. Roger Alcantara / Wikimedia Commons.
By Michael Coren
We far too often encounter celebrities who describe themselves as Catholic but prove to have a very soft centre indeed when we undo the wrapper.
They attend "progressive" or "inclusive" churches; this is a euphemism for being non-Catholic, ultra-liberal, and obsessed with the gay issue, from a pro-homosexual standpoint, of course.
Abroad as well as in Canada, "sort-of" Catholics, plastic Catholics, cafeteria Catholics who draw any sort of public attention are held up as examples, which is so very sad. When the real thing comes, there isn't the same attention.
Take the great, the truly great, Emmanuel (Manny) Pacquiao, arguably the finest pound-for-pound boxer in history. He is a modest, humble, compassionate and highly intelligent man who is now an elected politician in the Philippines, and he is also a steadfast Catholic.
He supports, for example, the Catholic bishops in his country taking a stand against the reproductive health bill that would push funded contraception on a people who deserve much better.
Most people in the Philippines oppose the bill and support Pacquiao, but President Aquino enjoys great and well-financed backing, naturally, from opinion-shapers in the United States, Britain, and Canada.
What the chattering classes in New York, London, and Toronto believe to be correct is suddenly not mere opinion but established truth. And anyway, as one Ottawa journalist told me, "What do I care about what some boxer thinks about anything?"
Quite so. Ah, if only the whole thing could be sorted out in a ring, or, perhaps, around a track.
Continuing the sports and religion line, commentators were extraordinarily quiet about the Christian faith of not just a few but so many of the medal-winners in the recent London Olympics.
The couple of women competing in hijabs were lauded as pioneers of religious liberty, but Usain Bolt's tweet that everything was due to God, and the frequent prayers of thanks after victory from myriad athletes, went generally ignored.
This brings us to Meseret Defar. This remarkable Ethiopian woman, who won the gruelling 5,000-metre race, has previously won gold medals and set several world records. An athlete of almost unparalleled accomplishment, she ran this race, and has run others, carrying a cloth icon of Our Lady and the baby Jesus; she is a devout member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
After she crossed the finish line she took out the icon, kissed it repeatedly, knelt on the ground and kissed it again, and then held it up to the camera several times in obvious praise and gratitude.
The commentary was hilarious. First commentator: "Look, aaah!" (The "aagh" spoken as if she had just blown a kiss to the crowd or hugged a tiny doll.)
Second commentator: "There's obviously a message in there somewhere, isn't there?"
First commentator again: "Well there's a strong Christian community in Ethiopia."
Second commentator again: "Yes, yes, and I think that was the, er, what we saw there."
Yes, I think it might just have been.
A lot of this is simply ignorance and shock, of course: sports commentators are not always enormously bright, and they are probably confused by genuine Christian witness.
But what was noticed by them, because they told us, was that at so many of the medal ceremonies a young lady in a purple hijab was present, even though Muslims represent less than five per cent of the British population.
An accident or coincidence? Oh, please! Muslims do dominate, however, in the number of countries which refuse to participate in the Olympic spirit, and in the countries that will not compete with Israel, or refuse to allow women to compete, either completely or in any meaningful sense.
The episode where a terrified Saudi girl who had played judo for less than two years, a meagre blue-belt, was brought in at the last moment as a token to satisfy the Olympic committee, was an utter disgrace.
So, media and officialdom are biased, and in the case of Manny Pacquiao, totally subjective. No surprise there.
We'd do well to remember Christian heroes from the Olympics games, and sports in general, and the line from Christian sprinter Eric Liddle in Chariots of Fire. "When I run," he says, "I feel God's pleasure." We praise him in so many different ways.
Coren can be booked for speeches at michaelcoren.com. His latest book is Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity.